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The broader industry trends fanning the flames of retail food growth – namely, traceable, free from, purely natural, organic and smaller portion products – are the same factors propelling growth in the average supermarket meat department, as revealed in a sneak peek of Progressive Grocer’s 2015 Retail Meat Review.
Insights gleaned for PG’s annual "state of the retail meat department" – complete details of which will appear in our upcoming February print edition – were again tabulated from a proprietary survey fielded to retail meat executives from around the country in late 2014. As the only study of its kind in the marketplace, the exclusive meat research study provides a snapshot of benchmark performance and operations trends recorded over the past year, as well as projections about what participants foresee unfolding in 2015 in the fresh meat category.
Among the key highlights of this year's study is a fresh look at overall demand trends, which are underscored by the delicate balancing act retail meat executives are conducting to simultaneously hone value-oriented tactics with enhanced premium offerings.
When asked how consumer demand has changed for several fresh meat categories, smaller portions/pack sizes increased in clout as the foremost department driver, as ranked by over two-thirds (68.2 percent) of panelists. Nary one panelist indicated decreases with smaller packs, while the remainder (31.8 percent) reported on-par results. Value-priced cuts (ground, flat steaks, etc.), meanwhile, also came on strong with 59 percent of retail meat leaders seeing increases during the last year alongside 31.8 percent whose sales of value-oriented selections remained steady. A significantly smaller (9.1 percent) of panelists reported decreased sales of value-positioned proteins.
Other fresh meat department gainers include the growing free-from and purely natural categories, penetration of which increased for 58.5 percent of retail meat survey panelists, handily more than the 14.6 percent which reported decreases and nearly twice as better as the 26.8 percent posting status quo sales.
Grass-fed beef and domestic wild caught seafood are also gaining clout with 2015 Retail Meat Report participants, at 52.6 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Ditto for increased demand for premium-brand beef, which gained in penetration for 47.6 percent of panelists, paced next by organic fresh meat products, sales for which increased among 47.5 percent of the meat survey panelists.
Value-added products, such as oven- and grill-ready, marinated, kebabs, gourmet burgers, loaves and meatballs, continue to gain traction among 43.2 percent of retail meat executives, as does U.S. farm-raised seafood (38.2 percent); imported farm-raised seafood (37.5 percent); and locally raised meats (34 percent).
Complete results of Progressive Grocer's Retail Meat Review will appear in the February 2015 issue, which will be followed in March by the annual Retail Seafood Report.